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The Harry Potter hoax, or manipulating the mass media for fun and for profit.

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Jun 24, 2007, 8:18:53 AM6/24/07
Harry Potter book has not been stolen.
It is an homebrew experiment of a well known military tactic named
Psychological Operation (PSYOP), applied to Information Warfare.

In less than 48 hours a fake news has realized 200 newspaper
publication (including BBC, CNN, REUTERS) , 10.000+ blogs, many TV
reportage, from the India to Southamerica.

PSYOPs can be summarized as: the creation of fake information, a
partial description or censorship applied to mass media.

PSYOPs are widely used by non-democratic governments in different
countries around the world and by big political-economical lobbies in
western countries.

Our goal was to provide to the world citizen a proof of the
vulnerability of today information society and let them think
seriously about that.

Below a more detailed explaination of the operation.


The Harry Potter book apparent theft has been made up as a simple
exemplification of the power of PSYOP in polluting mass media
information flow with fake and unimportant news, distracting the
attention of the masses from real problems and their solutions.
PSYOPs are well known since world war II, and widely used to influence
the perception of evenements. A wide literature on the subject is
available online and in print, from military, intelligence agencies
and governmental sources [see PSYOPS MATERIALS At the end of this
The mix who consented a completely fake news to gain in less than 24
hours the honors of primetimes allover the world is as cheap and
simple as terrific in its efficacy:
. A futile but really widespread subject for which an high expectation
is already set worldwide
. A salad of religion, technology and language
. An accurate choice of the entry point in the information flow

Far more articulated Psyops are conducted every day in different
countries around the world, manipulating at some degrees the reality
perceived by millions of people. An example of this is China with its
great firewall; an example of how the perception is manipulated in
such a country is cited by Bruce
Psyops are considered by military a tactical tool in the Information
WarFare field, a lot of governmental and private organizations are
using those attacks against the information system.
Could we distinguish what is true from what is manipulated?
Are you aware that information warfare is for real and not only a good
subject for best sellers' novelists?


DoD (Department of Defense, US) Information Operation and Cyberwar,
explains in some documents [see PSYOPS MATERIALS at the end of this
chapter] how PSYOP usage is increasing, principally because of the
sinergy among worlwide communication infrastructure and the intrinsic
power of PSYOP techniques.
Others governmental papers define PSYOPS as tools for influencing
decision-making in domestic audience.
Targets of PSYOP can be different: in our scenario we choose to target
ordinary people, in order to demonstrate how little effort is needed
in order to achieve the worldwide diffusion of wellbuilt news.
USA are not the ones who investigate and use these techniques and
tactics for influencing, by altering their perception of evenements,
the masses or the decision makers.
Controling the masses is a formidable tool for putting under pressure
the decision makers.
What we see everyday in the news, in a way that is indipendent from
the media streaming them, is a battle for the control of our
perception of facts.

Let's see how PSYOPs can be deployed, by leveraging on the global
media stream:
1) by building fake information for primary effect: a fake, or a
partial depiction, news is spread along the more influencial media.
The better this news is built and sustained, the more impact it will
have on the perception of originating facts among the media consumers.
An important effect is that the attention is distracted from the fact
and its eventual witnesses.
2) by building fake information for manipulating large consensus. It
is possible to create news for attracting attention around a person, a
society, a trend. The apparent target are the news consumers inteneded
in terms of "public opinion". By this way is possible to foster
support to unpopular governmental decisions or to damage the consensus
towards someone or something. The latter being the actual target of
this kind of operations.
3) by building fake attribution of an anonymous action: when an
unpopoular action bring the attetion, the attribution or the linking
to a certain organization, society, etnicity, produces a negative view
of the target. Even if the news is later denied, the first perception
made a strong point in conditioning the media consumers.
4) by manipulating the timing of news disclosures in order to attract
and/or retain the media consumers attention: time control the
insist on old notice, expose with strong emotional language.
5) by censorship, both implicit and explicit. Explicit censorship scan
be acted by suppressing news from the media stream (default policies
for military deployed in war, dictatorial governments, national
emergency situations when spreading panic could be harmful for nation
Implicit censorship is better acted on internet by low ranking in
search engnines, blog manipulations and/or restriction, limitating by
technical means the access to uncontrolled sources of information
(China great firewall).
A drawback effect of this form of censorship is that, for its nature,
internet is yet for the great part not controllable.

All the mentioned techniques are used by a plethora of selfdefining
democratic countries to control the way we perceive their lobbyistic
management of collective goods.

Goya, Francisco The sleep of reason produces monsters.


The documents

The collection of all documents in


The internet censorship tool of Chinese Government

Google acknowledge to censor itself for china

China will monitor and censor SMS

Television censorship in China

Psyop of Russian government against Chechnya

Russian censorship and control of information

US PsyOP in Afghanistan against Taliban,9565,187810,00.html

US psyop expert worked at CNN during Kosovo War

Bush won election because of the psyop on terrorism


. The motivation: Religion as opium of the people (Karl Marx)
The soidisant thief is motivated by religious concernings expressed by
the actual Pope of the catholic church about Harry Potter.

. The "undeniable news"
The theft of the last book (7 millions of copies are expected to be
sold the first day of its appearance on the bookstores shelves) of
Harry Potter's saga, one months before its publishing date.
Undeniability is because "if the editor had ufficially answered to
thess rumors, maybe they're real!", but also in absence of official
ansmer rumors continue to appear credible.
Such a news can be passed mouth by mouth, link by link all over the

. The information stream entry point
The "undeniable news" is posted on a mailing list on internet. This
mailing list is read primarily by information security professionals
and hackers of different kind.

. The technical tools
free webmail account

Put together all the ingredients. Glue them with the poor english of
the medium young bored wannabe and a minimum of technical depiction of
the theft.
By using TOR ( to anonymize the connection, create
an account on a free webmail and post the message on the selected
entry points.
Wait for the news to appear on mainstream media, leveraging on the
fact that Harry Potter is a wellknown subject among people of all
sort, that journalists love hackers related news, and that religious
motivation is another intriguing attractive.

- POLLUTED INFORMATION MAINSTREAM,23663,21948797-7485,00.html
...and counting...

this is reported from
June 21 -- Our web servers are struggling to keep up with the load
after press reports that a hacker posted Harry Potter spoilers to a
mailing list we archive. We have no idea if the spoilers are true or
not, and reading it could affect your enjoyment of the book! So you
might prefer to pre-order the book and try to be patient until July 21
instead. But if you really want the spoilers, [...]
200 news published talking about Harry Potter, the number of blogs
reporting them is at the moment 10.400 (since 48h of first mail), may
be it will continue going up.

Many TV news had reported it and the security guru Schneier wrote an
entry on his well known blog


If you are pleased about the publicity feedback received from our
operation and/or you have found our recipe useful, make a public
greetings by donating to:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Free Software Foundation:

TOR Project:


If you are a human rights organization you should care about
psycological operation and information warfare mainly related with the
right of free speech.
Please help keeping the provided PSYOP MATERIAL both in pdf and zip
format available trough your website. The risk is that they disappear
from the internet.

This is our last communication about Harry Potter Hoax

Luther Blisset

Message has been deleted

Aug 6, 2007, 2:03:26 PM8/6/07
> The documents
> The collection of all documents in PSYOP_MATERIAL.zip
> The internet censorship tool of Chinese Government
> Google acknowledge to censor itself for china

> China will monitor and censor SMS
> Television censorship in China
> Psyop of Russian government against Chechnya
> Russian censorship and control of information
> US PsyOP in Afghanistan against Taliban,9565,187810,00.html
> US psyop expert worked at CNN during Kosovo War
> Bush won election because of the psyop on terrorism
> read more »

I'm actually creating a course for the NSA on Information Operations
and I noticed that you're definition for PSYOP is wrong, at least in
terms of the US. We don't convey false information. The correct
definition is Planned operations to sway, by presenting selected
truthful information or indicators, the actions and/or inactions of
foreign governments, organizations, groups, individuals. This is done
by influencing their emotions, objective reasoning, and motives. This
definition comes from Joint Publication 3-13. It's actually illegal
for the US to use PSYOPs on their own people, but government officials
did acknowledge that the global media can replay PSYOPs that intended
for foreign audiences only.

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